The term groupie is a slang word that refers to a fan of a particular musical group who follows this band around while they are on tour or who attends as many of their public appearances as possible, with the hope of hope of meeting them. The term is usually derogatory, describing young women who follow these individuals aiming to initiate a sexual encounter with them or to offer them sex. The term is used to describe fans of music and sports, and admirers of public figures in other high-profile professions.
The word groupie originated around 1965 to describe teen-aged girls or young women who sought to initiate sexual liaisons with rock musicians. The phenomenon was much older; Mary McCarthy had earlier described it in her novel The Company She Keeps (1942). Some sources have attributed the coining of the word to the Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman during the group's 1965 Australian tour; but Wyman said he and his bandmates used other "code words" for women on tour.
A prominent explanation of the groupie concept came from Rolling Stone magazine, which published an issue devoted to the topic, Groupies: The Girls of Rock (February 1969), which emphasized the sexual behavior of rock musicians and groupies.TIME magazine published an article, "Manners And Morals: The Groupies", later that month. Also that year, British journalist Jenny Fabian and Johnny Byrne released a largely autobiographical book called Groupie (1969). The following year, a documentary film titled Groupies (1970) was released.
Female groupies in particular have a long-standing reputation of being available to celebrities, pop stars, rock stars and other public figures. Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant is quoted as distinguishing between fans who wanted brief sexual encounters, and "groupies" who traveled with musicians for extended periods of time, acting as a surrogate girlfriend, and often taking care of the musician's wardrobe and social life. Women who adopt this role are sometimes referred to as "road wives". Cynthia Plaster Caster, Cleo Odzer, Barbara Cope ("The Butter Queen") and The GTOs ("Girls Together Outrageously"), with Pamela Des Barres, in particular, as de facto spokeswoman, are probably the best known groupies of this type.
Musician Frank Zappa organized "The GTOs" in the late 1960s. The band comprised seven young women--Miss Pamela (Pamela Des Barres), Miss Sparky (Linda Sue Parker), Miss Lucy (Lucy McLaren), Miss Christine (Christine Frka), Miss Sandra (Sandra Leano), Miss Mercy (Mercy Fontentot), and Miss Cynderella (Cynthia Cale-Binion).
A characteristic that may classify one as a groupie is a reputation for promiscuity. Connie Hamzy, also known as "Sweet Connie", a prominent groupie in the 1960s, argues in favor of the groupie movement and defends her chosen lifestyle by saying, "Look we're not hookers, we loved the glamour". However, her openness regarding her sexual endeavors with various rock stars is exactly what has enhanced the negative connotations surrounding her type. For example, she stated in the Los Angeles Times article "Pop & Hiss" (December 15, 2010): "Hamzy, unlike the other groupies, was never looking to build relationships. She was after sex, and she unabashedly shared intimate moments with virtually every rock star--even their roadies--who came through Arkansas."
Des Barres, who wrote two books detailing her experiences as a groupie--I'm with the Band (1987) and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up (1993)--as well as another non-fiction book, Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon, asserts that a groupie is to a rock band as Mary Magdalene was to Jesus. Her most recent book, Let's Spend the Night Together (2007), is a collection of wildly varied interviews with classic "old school" groupies including Catherine James, Connie Hamzy, Cherry Vanilla, DeeDee Keel, and Margaret Moser. Des Barres described Keel as: "One of the most intimidating dolls ... a slim strawberry blonde who won the highly prized job of Whisky office manager after her predecessor Gail Sloatman met Frank Zappa and became what we all wanted to be." Keel was one of the few who stayed connected in Hollywood and with bands for nearly three decades. Des Barres, who married rock singer/actor Michael Des Barres, also persuaded cult actress Tura Satana, singer and model Bebe Buell, actress Patti D'Arbanville, and Cassandra Peterson, better known as "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark", to talk about their relationships with musicians.
During the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, women would hang around the hotels of Clear Lake and Cocoa Beach "collecting" astronauts. Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot Stu Roosa, recalled, "I was at a party one night in Houston. A woman standing behind me, who had no idea who I was, said 'I've slept with every astronaut who has been to the Moon.' ... I said 'Pardon me, but I don't think so.'"
Groupies also play a role in sports. A puck bunny is an ice hockey fan whose interest in the sport is primarily motivated by sexual attraction to the players rather than enjoyment of the game itself. Primarily a Canadian term, it gained popular currency in the 21st century, and in 2004 was added to the second edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary which defines it as follows:
Puck bunny: a young female hockey fan, especially one motivated more by a desire to meet the players than by an interest in hockey.
The term is somewhat analogous to the term "groupie" as it relates to rock and roll musicians. Sociological studies of the phenomenon in minor league hockey indicate that self-proclaimed "puck bunnies" are "'proud as punch' to have sex with the [players]", as it confers social status on them. However, these transitory relationships are often contrasted with those of girlfriends, with whom players have more stable, long-term relationships.
"Buckle bunnies" are a well-known part of the world of rodeo. The term comes from a slang term for women ("bunnies"), and from the prize belt buckles awarded to the winners in rodeo, which are highly sought by the bunnies. According to one report, bunnies "usually do not expect anything more than sex from the rodeo participants and vice versa".
In a 1994 Spin magazine feature, Elizabeth Gilbert characterized buckle bunnies as an essential element of the rodeo scene, and described a particularly dedicated group of bunnies who are known on the rodeo circuit for their supportive attitude and generosity, going beyond sex, to "some fascination with providing the most macho group of guys on Earth with the only brand of nurturing they will accept".
Recently, in Irish sport, particularly in GAA sports the term "Jersey Puller" or "Jersey Tugger" has been used to describe females who are romantically interested in players. The term refers to the pulling of a player's top. The term can range from who look to be romantically linked with senior intercounty players to local players playing for their parish.